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Puigdemont calls for united front

RTBF Television via Reuters

Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont appears on a monitor during a live interview at the RTBF television studios in Brussels on Friday.

Reuters MADRID/BARCELONA (Reuters) — Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called on Saturday for a united political front in the Dec. 21 election to continue the drive for independence from Spain and to protest against the imprisonment of former members of the regional government.

Puigdemont, who went to Belgium after his government was fired following a unilateral declaration of independence, said on Friday he was considering standing in the election from Brussels.

In Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the snap election after taking control of Catalonia a week ago.

Political parties that wish to run on a common platform have until Tuesday to register any potential coalition and until Nov. 18 to put forward their candidates.

“It is time for all democrats to join together. For Catalonia, for the freedom of political prisoners and for the republic,” Puigdemont said in a tweet that included the hashtag llistaunitaria.cat, a site calling for parties to unite against the Spanish government at the ballot box.

Signatures on the website rose to over 40,000 from just 2,000 within a few hours of Puigdemont’s tweet.

In a poll published on Tuesday, the pro-independence coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) was seen winning with 35.2 percent if the vote was held immediately.

That would return a parliamentary majority to independence supporters if the group stuck with its current pact with far-left party CUP.

The wealthy northeastern region continues to be evenly split between those that support leaving Spain and those that wish to remain part of the country, according to polls taken since the declaration of independence.Speech

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